I hope there was a Mr and Mrs Niaz in your life growing up, who cooked meals for your family, and closed your hand around a fistful of chocolates when you were sent to return their dishes.
I hope there was a man who sold you an ornament at a car-boot sale for 5p, and another your parents always mention – the one who gave your family speedboat rides ten summers ago.
I hope there is now a Siân in your life to declare it a treat day, and to bring you something back from Sainsbury’s. And a Naomi, to post you flowers when you change city.
I also hope you have a Christmas card from someone unexpected this year, and that you too believe it is better for me to pay for your drink and you to pay for mine, even if they are the same price.
One evening last summer I was greeted by a train sat ready to depart in the platform, and a woman sat crying by its side. I am thankful the better part of me was in charge that evening: I joined her, learned she had just received the news of her mother’s death, and sat while she sobbed. Her name was Claire. At some point I left her. She kissed my hand as I got up, and I made it onto the train home.
The better part of me from that evening last summer is the Sarah Crew from the 1996 film ‘A Little Princess’ part, and it’s root is generosity. It is the part of me I am most proud of – the part that can freely give people the benefit of the doubt, that cheers another person’s success, and the part that sincerely and readily seeks another’s good at my own expense.
This is why generosity is my sacred value.
Fundamentally, there is something delightfully unnecessary and inexpressibly and outlandishly beautiful about the generous; it speaks to me of something greater.
Most profoundly, generosity is the lens through which I best understand grace. It is the key with which I unlock faith, an understanding of the love of a God who seeks the blessing and flourishing of the world and people he created.
All too often, generosity is not the logic of this world. The logic of the world is sensible, rational, and discerning. But generosity is, I think, the logic of God. And the logic of God is merciful, compassionate, outlandish. The logic of God chose to step into the created Earth by means of a teenage pregnancy, announce his arrival to poor illiterate shepherds, and live as Immanuel – God with us – to change the course of human history forever.
“Greater love has no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13